Three area lawmakers are being questioned for their role in how funds from the Lawrenceburg casino grant program is distributed.
Sunday’s Indianapolis Star article written by Tony Cook suggested several instances of lawmakers supporting government grants to companies and organizations they have dealings with.
Former State Representative Bob Bischoff (D) supported a $1.85 million grant to Linkmeyer Development. While Bischoff did not mention it in a support letter of the grant in 2009, Linkmeyer Development is owned by his son and nephew.
The grant was awarded to Dearborn County, which used the funds to pay Linkmeyer Development to build a new road off of U.S. Route 50 in Aurora. The road would go through 30 acres owned by Linkmeyer Development, which would raise the value of their land by $5.7 million.
The article also reported Republican Senator Johnny Nugent, of Lawrenceburg supported a $500,000 grant to Zimmer Tractor. Zimmer later purchased Nugent’s lawn and garden business on Route 50 in Aurora, which Nugent had reportedly been attempting to sell. According to the Indianapolis Star, Zimmer leases the property from Nugent for $3,000 a month, excluding the first three months of the year.
Representative Jud McMillin, (R-Brookville) voted in favor of the grant towards Zimmer Tractor in 2012. The Indianapolis Star reported McMillin did not disclose that his law firm was representing Zimmer Tractor. McMillin told the newspaper that he was unaware of his firms’ involvement when he voted for it.
Last year, Destination Brookville LLC was recommended to receive a $600,000 grant to help restore a local theatre and develop a restaurant. The company was founded by McMillin in August 2010. While he did not vote on the grant, some grant committee members told the Indianapolis Star that McMillin did not say his mother and other family friends owned the business.
All three lawmakers say personal interests did not play a role in their decision to support certain grants.
The grants come from Hollywood Casino and are used to help businesses in ten Southern Indiana counties. Lawrenceburg passed an ordinance formalizing the grant-approval process in 2012.